You can now easily search for United award availability with interactive map

Jul 13, 2021

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Just last year, United added an interactive map to its site, allowing you to search by destination, activity or cheapest price — a unique tool if you don’t have your eye set on a specific destination. At that time, the map was limited to just revenue flights and didn’t have the option to pull up pricing if you wanted to use your United miles.

However, as first reported by Live and Let’s Fly, you can now use the same interactive feature if you’re looking to book your United-operated flight with MileagePlus miles. With the map, you can search for round-trip or one-way awards, while selecting the maximum number of miles you are looking to spend. You can also include travel interest filters which allows you to search for your desired vacation — including beaches, culture, national parks, skiing & snowboarding, and more.

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With a pretty open calendar for the rest of 2021, I put the tool to the test to see if I could find any great options for my family. With an interest to travel outside of the United States, this is the perfect tool to compare a ton of destinations in one search.

Being Boston-based, I entered my home airport code (BOS), capped my mileage at 30,000 (for a one-way trip), and then clicked Search. I moved the map around to the Caribbean and South America as well as Europe to see if anything popped up. I was intrigued to see that Lisbon priced out at just 24,400 miles, where all other European destinations were 30,000 miles.

To see more flight details, I clicked on the date link and was brought to the typical United booking engine, where I saw all flight options between the two city pairs and award pricing at all different class levels.

Unfortunately though, the routing for this particular flight was less then ideal — with a layover of over 11 hours in Newark (EWR). All other options required significantly more miles. In the interactive tool, I also found the “see more dates” option to be extremely glitchy and not pull up a calendar of options — for multiple destinations searched.

There were also other limitations to the tool. Unlike a revenue search, you can’t put in specific dates. You also only see prices for flights operated by United and United Express — not partner award availability — which significantly decreases your options. With partner awards requiring fewer miles at times, this means you could potentially pay more if you limit yourself to only relying on this tool.

Related: Your ultimate guide to United Airlines partners

Bottom line

This is a welcome addition to the United website. Not only can you search a broad range of revenue flights from a single departing destination, you can now also see where your miles can take you if you are open to many different destinations.

With that being said, I’d love to see more options added to the tool. First off, I wish I could enter specific dates or at least a date range. I’d also like to be able to enter the number of award seats required. Since I often travel with my family, finding only one or two seats available using miles can be a deal breaker. And while my family doesn’t sit up in the front of the plane typically, I know many United travelers would love to see an option where they can filter for business or first-class seats and not be limited to the cheapest award pricing (which is typically in economy).

Being able to search for just nonstop awards would be incredibly helpful too — as would the ability to enter a maximum travel time or limit your number of stops. A 19-hour itinerary from Boston to Lisbon isn’t happening, regardless of the number of miles required.

Overall though, having a tool to play around with is better then nothing at all. And hopefully over time, the tool will evolve to add new features and capabilities.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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